ASK 10 ORCHID growers how to sprout backbulbs and you’ll likely get a dozen answers. These include everything from the sphag-n-bag method to potting the backbulbs as you would a front division and hoping for the best.

The theory behind the sphag-n-bag method (and its corollaries) is that by keeping the backbulbs in a constantly humid environment, but not touching wet potting mix, dormant eyes will eventually break. The method varies, ranging from placing the backbulbs in Ziploc bags or large plastic pretzel jars to suspending the
backbulbs in a dry cleaning bag over moist potting medium and hanging the whole affair from the bottom of a greenhouse bench (popular when I first started growing orchids in the 1960s). But they all rely on nearly 100 percent humidity.

Other methods that involve potting the backbulbs in one fashion or another, including laying the backbulbs on a tray of moist medium, are based on the theory that
contact with moist medium will eventually trigger growth.

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